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7 Answers

Starting the engine as a student

Asked by: 2820 views FAA Regulations, Student Pilot

I was reading my FAR/AIM book and i decided i would look over the student pilot limitations. Well, i noticed that it only said that a student pilot cannot act as PIC, or carry any passengers without the instructor during Flight. It would be a waste of money i know, but could that mean that a student could start the engine and taxi around without an instructor or solo endorsement? And by no means would i take the risk to do this, but i was just curious because it said nothing about ground work.

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7 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Dec 22, 2013

    ยง61.89(a) states: “A student pilot may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft:” and mentions nothing about it applying only to flight.

    I certainly would not allow a student pilot to reposition the airplane anywhere on the airfield without a competent CFI on board.

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  2. Mark Kolber on Dec 22, 2013


    Sounds like you did a great job reading the regs on this. A pilot certificate is required for “flight” which starts when you move the aircraft with the intention to taking to the air. (Wes, it’s a combination of 61.3 and the definitions of “flight time,” “pilot in command” and “crewmember” in in FAR 1.1 – no flight intended, no PIC).

    Non-pilot mechanics do it all the time..

    That said, remember that the FAA is not the only thing that provides rules for flying.Some flight school insurance policies may have provisions that prohibit pre-solo student pilots from taxiing or operating the aircraft for any purpose.

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  3. Bob Watson on Dec 22, 2013

    I don’t think there’s any training or certification required just to drive the plane around on the ground (insurance and airport regulations notwithstanding), so long as you don’t drive it some place that causes a hazard (in which case, it’d be the fact that you’re causing a hazard that’s a problem, not that you don’t have a license).

    That being said, I don’t think there’s much to learn by doing this. If you know how to taxi the airplane safely, I suppose you could taxi over to the fuel pumps to top off before a flight (I used to do that working as a lineboy in high school, before I had a license), but, I don’t think you’d learn much by just taxiing around on a Sunday afternoon.

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  4. Sam Dawson on Dec 22, 2013

    Also check the insurance fine print. Some policies are void if a certified pilot is not at a set of flight controls

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  5. Wes Beard on Dec 23, 2013


    I understand what you are saying because their is no intention of flying the airplane you are saying there cannot be a pilot in command. I don’t really buy that argument.

    Even though there is no intention of flying, if there is an incident or accident, the FAA will need to blame someone and that is usually the PIC. It may be legal for a student pilot to taxi an airplane but I don’t think it is wise.

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  6. Mark Kolber on Dec 23, 2013


    So how do you explain mechanics taxiing airplanes without a pilot certificate?

    And what does being PIC on a flight have to do with blame for an accident or incident? Are you making the common mistake of thinking that since a PIC has “ultimate” responsibility for a flight, no one else does? And extending it to thing=k that the FAA doesn’t have any ability to take certificate or her action against someone because he wasn’t technically PIC?

    I definitely agree with you about the “wise” for the typical student pilot , who has as little taxi experience as flight experience (unless of course it’s that mechanic who decided to take flying lessons ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) But “wise” wasn’t the question, especially since Chris told us in the question that he wouldn’t take the risk of doing it and interested in knowing whether it was ok from a pure regulatory standpoint.

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  7. Brian on Dec 25, 2013

    Two of our maintenance technicians do not posses a licenses or a medical. Yet they taxi the aircraft to the run up area to do run up checks before and after performing various maintenance inspections. Good job reading Chris, you are right. There is no need to poses a license to taxi or run an airplane.

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